This guest post is from Amanda Clary at Nutrition Certification
A nutritionist is a health care professional who assists individuals or groups of individuals (such as a sports team) to achieve their health and nutrition goals. In some cases, nutritionists may also be found at large institutions, such as hospitals or schools, where they assess the facility’s dietary needs and create appropriate meal plans.
A nutritionist relies upon the following skills:
* Knowledge and understanding of nutrition: Most professional nutritionists are required by state guidelines to have graduated from an accredited four-year college or university with a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition or dietetics. This education gives them an in-depth understanding of human physiology, biology, and nutrition; as well as a rudimentary understanding of pharmacology, epidemiology and public health matters, chemistry and biochemistry, psychology, and kinesiology.
* People skills: As most nutritionists work closely with clients or patients to develop appropriate dietary plans for their individual situation, it’s essential that nutritionists have good people skills. They need to be able to listen to their clients to understand their needs and wishes; they need to be able to clearly explain to their clients how to implement a dietary plan; and they need to “read between the lines” in order to pick up on non-verbal cues their clients give them.
* Critical thinking and problem-solving: Nutritionists need to be able to assess a client’s current physical and dietary condition, and from that initial assessment, the nutritionist needs to recommend appropriate changes. A nutritionist needs to see all sides of a nutritional plan clearly, taking into account any physical conditions a client might have (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), cultural restrictions on diet (for example, some religions dictate a vegetarian diet), and an individual’s personal temperament in order to create a dietary plan to meet their needs.
* Time management and organizational skills: Because many nutritionists work with individuals as a consultant, just like a doctor, a nutritionist needs to manage his or her time well. Nutritionists need to be able to schedule clients without overbooking, and organize their client information in such a way that they can find it again quickly and easily.
* Using medical and scientific equipment: In the course of their work, nutritionists will often rely upon various pieces of medical and/or scientific equipment, including but not limited to: computers and computer software (such as medical software and Microsoft Office programs), bioelectric impedance machines, skinfold calipers for skinfold measurements, exercise equipment, and various bodyweight scales, including hydrostatic weighing machines. If you have an interest in nutrition and you have these skills (or can learn them), becoming a nutritionist might be an excellent career choice for you.